Supreme Court declines street-sleeping case
by Harvest Prude
Posted 12/16/19, 12:22 pm
WASHINGTON—A city cannot punish people for sleeping on the sidewalk or in public parks if no other shelter is available, according to a court ruling the Supreme Court let stand on Monday. The justices issued no comment or dissent in refusing to review the case from Boise, Idaho, where prosecutors convicted six homeless people of violating the city’s camping ban. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the city, saying that prosecuting people for sleeping in public places constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
How will the ruling affect relations between cities and the homeless? The ruling covers all nine Western states in the 9th Circuit, including California. Lawyers for the city of Boise argued that allowing homeless people to live on sidewalks and in parks “cripples the ability of more than 1,600 municipalities in the 9th Circuit to maintain the health and safety of their communities.”
Dig deeper: Read Charissa Koh’s report in Compassion on how city officials and residents respond to the public camping question.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.